Yoga is actually an all encompassing term that includes religion, philosophy and physical practices; but, let’s face it, we are a fitness blog, and what we strive to do is help people discover new ways that they can take steps forward in their fitness journey. For those reasons we will mostly be avoiding the religious and philosophical elements, except where they are directly tied to the physical practice.
At one point, yoga was seen as a sort of cultish, hippy endeavor that really didn’t appeal to people who are serious about fitness. That was until many professional athletes took up the practice and began to extol its virtues, and how their performance was improved by amping up their breathing and balance. This has made yoga a mainstay for many athletes and weekend warriors.
Why should people consider taking up Yoga?
An intelligent yoga practice allows one to cultivate an awareness and understanding of their own body and mind. It can offer ease, pleasure, be energizing and have a positive impact on the relationship with self, with others and on all aspects of daily living.
With yoga, we offer ourselves some respite from daily worry and an opportunity, with kindness and compassion, to look after our basic needs, restore our energy and refresh our outlook.
What is the main thing people will take away from their first class?
Yoga is accessible to all. It is pleasurable and truly speaks to body and mind.
Hopefully, someone will discover, even after one class, that it’s not only possible to learn to relax, but desirable and deeply helpful. There may also be an immediate sense of relief that the atmosphere is non competitive!
Who could benefit the most from taking yoga classes?
Absolutely everyone can benefit from taking a yoga class as long as the approach is focused on the needs of the individual.
Usually, I don’t proselytize, but I know how very nourishing yoga practice can be for postnatal women, allowing time to rediscover and appreciate the body, release tension, address fatigue and soreness, and re-energize.
What is the biggest misconception about yoga?
The misconception I hear stated most often is that you have to be flexible to do yoga. A good yoga class offers the opportunity for each student to explore a balance between flexibility, strength, activity and rest by way of productive and safe adaptations of postures and breathing practices.
There seems to be a lot of confusion around spirituality and its infinite expressions. I believe anything that draws us into our inner selves, and calms, nurtures and enriches our thinking is spiritual. Incense, icons and Sanskrit chants may help but are not required.
What are the main benefits of yoga for people over 45 who are looking to get more active?
Yoga has the potential to encourage physical and psychological balance, leaving the practitioner feeling more enlivened and focused. It encourages the cultivation of self- awareness, enabling one to alter long held habits that create physical and mental limitations. In the end, a good yoga practice supports a more active and fulfilling life.
The approach to yoga at Esther Myers Yoga Studio is slow and meditative and fundamentally based on breathing and relaxation. Someone may find yoga to be a good support for or an antidote to an athletic life. It is a gentle introduction to becoming more active, with its focus on body and breath awareness. Yoga is also a soothing, introspective practice, beneficial in its own right, for any age at any stage.
Yoga can truly be for anyone and it can help you take a step forward in your personal work out journey, not just because of the added balance and improved breathing, but because it adds to your level of muscle awareness which in turn improves the muscle-mind connection, which may be one of the most important aspects of any physical activity.